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The weekly column here at Leagueunlimited is to highlight what we here on the site think are the best players in each round of the 2004 NRL competition. Based on the opinion received from the Leagueunlimited.com live updaters, we have put together what we think is the team of the Round 26.
The final round of the SportOdds team of the week was tough to pick with so many players giving their all especially in most of the sides not making the play-offs. Some tremendous tries were scored as well as the quality of league in the final round of the regular competition simply outstanding.
Leagueunlimited Team of the Week - Round 26:
1. Robbie O'Davis - Knights - O'Davis set to retire after the Knights final match against the Wests Tigers on Saturday evening in Newcastle, had the home crowd in raptures as he nailed players with his tough 'body on the line' defence. An entertaining match in which the home side won was a fitting tribute to the Newcastle fullback who has given so much to the club.
2. Marshall Chalk - Raiders - A first half hat-trick of tries to Raiders rookie Marshall Chalk set up a commanding 22-10 Raiders lead at the break against the Rabbitohs at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night, helping to seal a Top 8 berth for his team. A fine performance by the youngster who will be full of confidence heading into the play-offs.
3. Brent Tate - Broncos - With a lot of top line Broncos players still sitting on the sideline with injury, once again Tate stepped up for his side against the Panthers on Friday night in Penrith. Not aided by the fact the Carl Webb left the field in the first few plays of the game, Tate still managed to skip around the opposition at times with his side well and truly up against the odds.
4. Luke Lewis - Panthers - Lewis with his long legs, caused havoc amongst the Broncos defenders down his side of the field as the Panthers went on to a great win in front of their fans on Friday night. Two tries in the match to the Penrith centre just reward for a tireless effort.
5. Matt Utai - Bulldogs - Four tries against the Warriors in Auckland early Sunday afternoon capped off a brilliant performance by the Bulldogs winger who caused havoc for the defence all throughout the game.
6. Brad Fittler - Roosters - Fittler inspired the Roosters first try of the day 3 minutes into the match against the Eels. Finch threw an inside ball to Fittler who spread the ball back to the blind side to a flying Craig Wing. The rain and the hail adding a dramatic feel to the match in which Fittler has stepped down from the game for the last time in the regular season. Coach Ricky Stuart giving him a rest 20 minutes from the end. Fittler left to field to a well deserved standing ovation from the crowd at Aussie Stadium.
7. Craig Gower - Panthers - The atmosphere was absolute magic at Penrith Stadium on Friday night as the passionate fans said goodbye to four of their heroes. Gower caught in a collision with Carl Webb in the first set of the match, battled on courageously and scored 2 terrific tries in the process as the Panthers secured a Top 4 position.
8. Daniel Heckenberg - Sea Eagles - The Sea Eagles finished season 2004 on a good note winning 3 out of their 4 last games. Taking on the Storm at Brookvale on Sunday, the home side showed their fans they can match it with the big guns. Heckenberg finished the season on a high, tirelessly taking the ball up in their great victory over the Storm, finished appropriately with Menzies scoring the final and winning try for the Sea Eagles.
9. Craig Wing - Roosters - Roosters hooker Craig Wing was the star of their last regular game against the Eels on Sunday afternoon, scoring a hat- trick of tries and tearing the Eels defence to ribbons.
10. Shane Tronc - Cowboys - Tronc seems to have grown in stature since he came from the Queensland Cup to play for the Cowboys in first grade. Certainly the Sharks defenders had problems with the big Queensland lad as he pounded his way up the field. Over 25 hitups in the match an impressive effort.
11. Ben Kennedy - Knights - With Kennedy leaving the Newcastle club after the Round 26 game against Wests Tigers, it was obvious he was going to give the fans something to remember him by as continuously caused mayhem amongst the Tigers defenders. Leaving the club victorious a nice finish to his career with the Knights.
12. Trent Waterhouse - Panthers - Waterhouse put on a great performance at Penrith on Friday night as the Panthers secured a home semi much to the delight of the home side. His try midway through the first half of the game as he crashed through the defence to score, was a sign of things to come as the 2003 Premiers showed they are very serious in repeating the same feat in 2004.
13. Tony Grimaldi - Bulldogs - The top tackler for the Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon against the Warriors in Auckland, Grimaldi helped his side to a solid victory as they head into the play-offs. Always one of the first to encourage his team-mates, he's worth his weight in gold on the field.
14. Matt Bowen - Cowboys - The last home game for the Cowboys in 2004 turned out to be a cracker as they came out victorious over a Sharks side fighting for a position in the Top 8. A slow first half by the home side changed after the break with the side running away with the match including Bowen setting up a super try to Hannay late in the match, and a spectacular solo effort by the Cowboys fullback brushing off five defenders in the process.
15. Brett Finch - Roosters - Finch as consistent as ever for his side placed kicks superbly right throughout the game against the Eels in cold and wet conditions at Aussie Stadium on Sunday afternoon. With Fittler exiting the game with 20 minutes to go, the deft little chips and grubbers by Finch had the opposition on the back foot with the hail pelting down.
16. Mark McLinden - Raiders - McLinden scored two second half tries in the match against Souths on Saturday night. With the departure of Wiki close to half time, McLinden seemingly stepped up a notch as he guided his side well around the park and into the finals.
17. Anthony Minichiello - Roosters - A trademark Minichiello try following a great grubber kick by Finch in horrid conditions on Sunday afternoon at Aussie Stadium, close to the end of the match, helped to hand the JJ Giltinan shield to the Roosters, the Minor Premiers for 2004.